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Mathews, Ray

Photography of wildflowers has been a passion of Ray Mathews' for at least two decades, as they inspire the most beautiful elements of color, detail, and pattern in nature. Wildflowers also attract many fauna for pollination, food, and habitat, which enhance their beauty and function.

Ray's father gave him a Kodak Brownie camera on Ray's 6th birthday and taught him how to photograph garden flowers with it. That began a wonderful experience for Ray of capturing images of nature. Ray has made the interesting observation that 2012 was the centenary of the Kodak Brownie camera and the 100th anniversary of Lady Bird Johnson's birth. In 2007, when Lady Bird Johnson passed away, Ray sent some wildflower photographs to a local television station (KXAN) as a dedication to her life, and his photograph of a water-lily was aired on the news as his tribute to her, for which he remains proud to this day.

Ray Mathews' father was a good mentor, as he was a very good photographer. He even took his camera with him during WWII as an Army combat officer in North Africa and Italy. His pictures of combat still inspire those who served with him in the 435 Anti-aircraft Artillery Battalion and 473 Infantry Regiment as well as their sons and daughters, like Ray himself who still attend annual reunions in their honor. His father's photographic expertise was very helpful in shaping Ray's interests and skills as a young photographer.

Ray enjoyed fishing with his father and brother on the Texas coast and Highland Chain of Lakes which led to Ray becoming a certified scuba diver at the age of 14. He was too young to drive then, so Ray's mother drove he and his best friend to scuba lessons. Soon, Ray was president of a dive club, and Diver of the Year for the Gulf Coast Council of Dive Clubs by 18 years of age.

Because he enjoyed fishing and scuba diving, Ray decided to combine those interest into a career in biological oceanography at Texas A&M University Oceanography Department. While working on a project to evaluate the impact of anchor scars on the Flower Garden coral reef in the Gulf of Mexico, Ray found that his underwater photography was integral to documenting the impact of ship anchors crashing into a coral reef and leaving scars that lasted for years. Ray says, "In my opinion, coral reefs are like wildflowers in their color and beauty." His team's research led to the formation of the Flower Garden Banks National Sanctuary. The preserve prevents ships from anchoring on the reef prior to navigating into the Port of Galveston and most likely the only reason the reef remains a beautiful underwater coral "flower" garden today.

Later, his career changed course to more inland and coastal waters of Texas, and Ray became involved in the research and environmental conservation of fish and natural ecosystems. He served as the President of the Texas Organization for Endangered Species and of the Texas Academy of Science, and was involved with the formation of the Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge and with environmental flow-needs protection of native fishes in the rivers and estuaries of Texas among other projects which brought him into a close professional relationship with staff of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. Over several years, he frequently talked to those staff about becoming a Wildflower Center docent and when he retired from the State of Texas he fulfilled his dream to volunteer his photographic and other skills at the Wildflower Center.

Much of Ray's time during the last several years has also been serving as the Historian of the Texas Academy of Science, Texas Organization for Endangered Species (TOES), Texas Chapter of the American Fisheries Society, and Texas Chapter of the Wildlife Society. Photographic documentation has been an important part of writing those histories. Most of the documents are available at their websites. Ray Mathews' recent photography for the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center and other interests are available at the following links: Ray's Flickr web page and at Ray's Phanfare web page.

The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is committed to developing the premier resource for native plant images in North America through continued growth of the Plant Image Gallery. You can help us achieve our mission ...to increase the sustainable use and conservation of native wildflowers, plants, and landscapes... by becoming a contributor.


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scientific namecommon name(s)image gallery
Acacia farnesianaHuisache
Sweet acacia
Mealy wattle
Acacia farnesianaHuisache
Sweet acacia
Mealy wattle
Acacia farnesianaHuisache
Sweet acacia
Mealy wattle
Acacia farnesianaHuisache
Sweet acacia
Mealy wattle
Acacia farnesianaHuisache
Sweet acacia
Mealy wattle
Acacia greggii var. wrightiiCatclaw acacia
Catclaw
Wright acacia
Acacia greggii var. wrightiiCatclaw acacia
Catclaw
Wright acacia
Acacia greggii var. wrightiiCatclaw acacia
Catclaw
Wright acacia
Acacia greggii var. wrightiiCatclaw acacia
Catclaw
Wright acacia
Acacia greggii var. wrightiiCatclaw acacia
Catclaw
Wright acacia
scientific namecommon name(s)image gallery

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